You are far more talkative with honest and open communication. Is this a legacy of the stroke or a passing phase like your bladder control and voice control? I hope some of it stays.
Last Sunday you called Pete in Ottawa. He emailed back some great observations about your recovery. He said:
“Wow, that was awesome and unexpected. What a wonderful surprise. Not surprising, it was deeper than our past conversations and I note the change in voice. However, in case you are interested, the other things I most noticed were:
he was more articulate than before
he was very aware/frustrated by his difficulty with time perception, and yet he never repeated anything
everything he said was very intelligent
I was so happy!”
As I read this to you, you smiled. “I always have big belly aching laughter with Pete. I hope he can visit sometime.”
Kristin has already come and gone with your physio today. But she popped her head in the door, a little later, and I asked her if there was a time-line for rehab yet. She said that she is in contact with the rehab assessor, Nadine. This is the person you have to impress to get into rehab. Hopefully she would know more next week.
You feel frustrated that you can’t do things … physical things. You feel trapped in your body. You are frustrated that rehab is still out of your reach.
Liz, the stroke coordinator, was in to visit with you yesterday and left some home work for you to do. You are to think about your short term and long term goals. It’s a little unclear what she is looking for here. You ask me to help you with this. We talk about goals – the possible and the improbable.
One of the goals is for you to write the Christmas letter for this year. This is a job that we do intermittently. We do it every 3-4 years whether we need to or not. You have taken over writing the generic letter that goes with the card. I do all the rest. Your letters in the past years have been very funny and are a topic of conversation amongst our friends.
This year, your job is to do a really really good Christmas letter.
Andrew is your nurse today, He is your coke supplier. The ‘Coke Man’. He learned of your fondness for Coke Cola and has tracked down a hospital source for you. Your man, Andrew, arranged with the food service people to bring you Coke with your meals. When your lunch tray was brought up the lady also brought three cans of coke as well!
I read you some more emails – one was from John H in Ottawa. It brought you to tears. This is not as easy to do as it was a few weeks ago. You were touched by his words. John says:
“Chris Giles and I spoke on Monday. I hadn't spoken to him before or even knew his name. He put it best. "Chris is my very best friend. I don't know if I'm his best friend, but he's my best friend." That's the way I feel about Chris and me, and I am pretty sure that's the way many people feel about him. He has a way of getting and staying close to people, forever, and making each person feel like what they have with him is unique and special.”
This made you cry. You haven’t cried much this week but you did when you heard these words. I think John nailed it – you are a good friend to so many because you make an effort. In today’s world, it’s easy to let other details of life pull friends apart.
Life’s too short – communication is key – that is your mantra now.
You are much more talkative and open about your feelings. I like this new improved side of you but you paid a heck of a price for the legacy.
Julia (friend who had an aneurysm few years ago) said that in her experience, some things were lost and some things were added. Empathy, for example, was heightened for her. I think it is for you too.
“We were lucky that we got another chance.” You said. You are grateful – I want to feel it too.
You are right we are lucky. Over the past few years our lives have sped along at increasing speeds and slightly different directions. We were still insight of each other but we both wondered how long that would last. When the children left would we still want to be together? Neither of us wanted to think about the answer.
A relationship with a good foundation is only good if you want to share the basement.
We hadn’t talked about ‘us’ in ages. There always seemed to be more important things to talk about but like you said “Life is too short” – we need to talk about the important things first.
I read you a letter from Janice. She writes about the impact you made on her family. She said that she had noticed that “you never gave up on friends and the people you love and I doesn’t think you will give up on yourself either. ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.’ She quoted this line from one of your favorite poems by Kipling.
Janice points out that you “have given us a second lease on life because of this disaster.”
You had another date with the commode chair. This time you couldn’t make it the second base without a little help from a fleet enema. While you are held hostage in the commode chair, I check out your bed and start to fall asleep. I wake to sound that can only lead me to the conclusion that you are giving birth to twins! You share all the details with anyone who is willing to listen and even those who won’t.
I tell you about Tara’s experience at school. You listen carefully. You are concerned
“I’m being selfish. I have thoughts in my head that made her doubt me.” I point out to you that when you run in a marathon – “you must have points when you want to quit
It’s natural to have those thoughts.”
“Yeah but she’s my daughter.” You said.
“Yes and you are her hero and she knows you are going to do your very best to get better.” I say reassuringly.
“I made her doubt me by doubting myself … a daddy should never do that.” You say critically.
You have always been one who likes black and white – you are too hard on yourself.
“I just don’t want to fail.”
“You won’t fail” I said.
You worry about Quinn also – he is so sensitive.
“I should give them a pep talk” You said. We arrange that I will bring the children to visit after their music lessons.
As soon as we get in the door of your room, you gesture for the children to come to your bed. You want to give Tara and Quinn the pep talk.
“I know I’m not much of a Daddy right now but I’m doing as much as I can to change that. Sometimes I cry but then I remember that you guys are my life and I want to be back and be your Daddy again. It is going to take a long time but I am going to do everything I can just to prove to you that I love you so much.”
“I’m going to work as hard as I can to come back to be your Daddy. I know there are going to be sad times but we have to get past them and think of all the good times we are going to have.”
“It’s will not always be like this”. You say.
Quinn told you that there were times when “I wanted to do this.” He is referring to the trick you worked out with him to help him let others know how he feels -pull on your ear lobe.
“Did you do that or did you just cry? “
“I cried.” Quinn said.
“Just remember that there are people all around you; they want to help you and make you feel better. People like to help – it makes them feel better too. You can also help each other. Tell us if you feel sad. All the grownups who look after you after school can help you feel better. “ You reply.
This is the first time since your stroke that you actually parented the children. In the past they were impressed with various aspects of your recovery. Thumbs up, writing things like ‘Is is Christmastime yet?’, getting rid of tubes and wires one by one, whispering then talking, arm wrestling and playing cards. All these were positive signs of recovery that would be typical of anyone with your condition. But this pep talk was a Daddy moment. A real feeling and sharing moment full of good advise that only a parent can give with love.
It’s was a priceless moment.